It was very much a case of keeping the status quo in the Men’s EY Hockey League this weekend with just Lisnagarvey dropping points in the top half of the table. Banbridge remained in the top spot with a narrow victory over Monkstown, winning by two goals to one. ‘Garvey stays in second, two points behind Banbridge, after drawing in a goalless affair at home against Annadale.
Glenanne were in the mood at home against Instonians, netting no less than nine times, Instonians scoring a solitary consolation goal. The win keeps the Dublin side in third place, while YMCA beat Pembroke six goals to two at home. It was one-all at the end of the first quarter but two second-quarter goals and a flurry of three in the final quarter with just one in reply from Pembroke put the result out of doubt.
The three points put YMCA into fourth place with 14 points, but in the fifth position with a game in hand are Three Rock Rovers who are in reach of third place if they win their refixed match with Cookstown.
In the closing stages of a cagey affair in Park Avenue, Loreto’s Sarah Torrans found herself with the ball on the end of her stick in acres of space on the top of the circle in the dying moments of the third quarter. The Loreto forward made the most of the chance and smashed it into the top left corner to break the deadlock and, eventually, to give her side a valuable three points.
It was round eight in the EY Hockey League, the final round of matches before the winter break, and in a high-paced affair that was the featured game of the weekend and streamed by Hockey Ireland, there were few chances for either team. Loreto had the better chances in the first half, winning two penalty corners that they failed to convert.
Ireland captain Katie Mullan looked lively for Railway Union in just her second game for the club after making the move down south last weekend. And, indeed, it was Mullan who won Railway’s first penalty corner in the third quarter, but the home side couldn’t make their set piece count.
Just six points separated these two fierce rivals before the game with Loreto in second and Railway in seventh and after big wins in round seven for both sides, they were each looking to continue winning ways going into the winter break. Loreto’s Sarah Torrans was a threat throughout causing trouble with her pace, and Siofra O’Brien looked to be through on Railway’s goal a number of times but for last-ditch tackles from the home team. But it was a snap pass from Loreto skipper Mia Jennings that found the unmarked Torrans at the top of the Railway circle, and the forward made no mistake with the gilt-edged chance.
There was still time for Railway to get a leveller with a full quarter to play and they pulled their keeper with five minutes to go, opting for 11 outfield players, but Loreto’s defence stayed resolute throughout and the youthful team showed experience beyond their years to make sure of the result. Player of the match Caitlin Sherin was at the centre of everything good that Loreto did and made several important interventions. Christina Hamill stood out for the visitors, too, while Lily Lloyd and Mullan looked dangerous for Railway and Emma Smyth was the most effective link for the home side.
This victory puts Loreto within a point of the lead in the EY Hockey League. Catholic Institute sit just a point ahead of the Beaufort team with 19 points. The competition takes a break for December and January as the national team ramps up to the FIH Women’s Nations Cup taking place in Valencia, Spain between December 11th and 17th.
Elsewhere, Old Alex and Pembroke Wanderers drew two all. It was one goal apiece at the half-time break, but Pembroke got their nose in front through an Erika Markey corner in the third quarter. Alex came back in the dying minutes of the final quarter, though, as Deirdre Duke salvaged a point for the home team. The last-minute goal keeps Old Alex ahead of Pembroke in the table, with the former in fourth with 13 points and the latter in fifth on 11.
Monkstown had a solid home victory against Ards, three points that saw them leapfrog Railway Union into seventh place on better goal difference, both teams on nine points. Monkstown were on the mark three times, the returning Chloe Watkins opening the home team’s account before young gun Emily Kealy netted home, followed in quick succession by the final goal from Claire O’Reilly.
UCD were in rare form as they romped home nine goals to the good against bottom side Belfast Harlequins. The win saw UCD climb to 15 points at the break, just four points adrift of league leaders Catholic Institute.
Old Alex 2-2 Pembroke (Old Alex; D.Duke, L.Tice; Pembroke; L.McGuire, E.Markey)
Avoca and Muckross drew one-all in their tie at Muckross School, meaning they sit in first and second respectively on four points in EY 2A with one round left to play before the winter break. Ulster Elks opened their account with a clinical display against University of Galway, putting five past the Galway defence while keeping a clean sheet themselves.
On the other side of the table, Corinthian are well out in front after a single goal gave them all three points against Queens University. Cork Harlequins, meanwhile, travelled to Ballymoney and won away from home by two goals to one.
University of Galway 0-5 Ulster Elks
Muckross 1-1 Avoca
Corinthian 1-0 Queens
Ballymoney 1-2 Cork Harlequins
Men’s EY 2A and 2B
Railway Union won a spirited encounter at Park Avenue with Queens University. The home team scored five to Queens’ two to make sure of top spot in EY2A. Corinthian moved up into top spot, thrashing Cork Harlequins six goals to one. Indeed, Corinthian scored all their goals in the first half, with ‘Quins shoring up their defence in the second half, and even scoring a consolation goal in the final quarter.
In EY2B, Kilkeel beat the travelling Avoca by five goals to three; that win sees them move into second place ahead of UCD who are on the same points but have an inferior goal difference but a game in hand. The students were not in action yesterday, but top-placed South Antrim were and they travelled home from Bandon, happy with a one-goal victory and top spot in the group.
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